Earlier this month I enjoyed this vase of 'Crocus Rose' and 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh' English roses on my dining table. These two English roses do very well for me as cut flowers. Neither of them are especially showy shrubs, though neither of them are in excellent growing conditions (part shade). But their flowers are very useful in arrangements.
There is a new line of English roses that you can order as cut flowers, though they have to be grown in a greenhouse so the plants themselves are not offered for sale. David Austin's garden roses aren't bred specifically for long vase life. Roses last longest in a vase when they have lots of stiff petals and little fragrance, and English roses are meant to have a softer look and to smell good instead. However, if I cut them before they're fully opened and keep them in a cool place out of direct sunlight, most of my English roses will last several days. When ordering new roses, I have usually selected ones that have decent cut flowers.
I regularly use English roses in vases, though I usually forget to take photos (sorry these last photos have already been posted). So I thought I'd write about which ones work best as cut flowers. Crimson 'William Shakespeare 2000' and mauve 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh' last longest in a vase for me. Soft salmon-pink 'Queen of Sweden' is almost thornless and lasts well as a cut flower. Deep rose 'Princess Alexandra of Kent' has gorgeous big blooms that do well in a vase. 'Crocus Rose' (above), soft yellow 'Teasing Georgia', soft pink 'Eglantyne' (which is very prickly) and peachy-pink 'Abraham Darby' are all moderately good as cut flowers. I haven't used peach 'Crown Princess Margareta' much but I expect it would be in the moderately good category. Tiny white 'Francine Austin' does moderately well and makes a very nice addition to arrangements of larger roses. Deep pink 'Gertrude Jekyll' is new for me, but I have heard it makes a good cut flower if you don't mind the extremely prickly stems. I also haven't tried orange 'Lady of Shallott', white 'Claire Austin' or mid-pink 'Harlow Carr' much in a vase so I can't rate them.
'Lady Emma Hamilton' (above) doesn't last more than a couple of days in a vase, and its blooms are carried so beautifully on the shrub that I often want to leave them there (unlike other English roses that sometimes droop so it's easy to cut them off). But its color and fragrance are really special, so sometimes it's worth it to put some in an arrangement. Mauve-pink 'Sister Elizabeth' occasionally lasts a few days in a vase for me - especially in fall - but it often wilts right away. Deep pink 'The Countryman' is very prickly and doesn't last long when cut. I have heard from other gardeners that pink 'Royal Jubilee' and purple 'Young Lydidas' are good cut flowers. Good news - I found a spot for 'Young Lycidas' next spring. Yay for more English roses in my garden and in the vase!